Go the Distance and Avoid 5 Common Travelers' Mistakes

With the number of travelers exploring the world each year — 5.2 million international visitors to the U.S. alone — there are bound to be bumps along the way. Planning and trip management are key to avoiding those common errors that travelers inevitably make.

If you are tired of vacation headaches, take a proactive approach that can save you both time and money while on the road. Consider some common mistakes to avoid when planning your next excursion.

Waiting to Check the Details

With national safety an issue these days, airlines, bus services, and trains are being extra careful about documentation. When purchasing tickets, you need to check the details such as the spelling of names and addresses early to avoid hassles at the gate or losing that budget-friendly price.

Booking sites like Travelocity and Expedia process high volumes and can make mistakes like spelling a name wrong. Once done, most ticketing agents will not change the name or promise to honor the ticket. The buyer's only choice may be to cancel and repurchase a ticket with the correct spelling. The sooner you check, the sooner you'll know a problem exists. If you wait, that sweet fare may disappear or the flight may fill up leaving one family member traveling solo.

Check and Double Check the Rental Car

Here is the scenario. You order your rental car early to get the best rate. You pick it up at the counter and are thrilled that they gave you a free upgrade. You have a fabulous week of seeing the sights, but when you return the car, the agent notices a dent or curbed tire. Huh? You don't think you did that, but you can't be sure because you made a classic error – failure to check the rental car for damage before driving away.

Take pictures of a car when you pick it up and drop it off. This precaution protects you from the company claiming damage that you didn't cause in hopes of getting your insurance company to pay.

Location, Location, Location

Most people have a clear understanding of the usual weather in Orlando, Florida, but what about areas not quite as well known such as India or China? Do you drink the water or not? What kind of spices do they use in Malaysia, and what are the potential side effects? What things are you likely to do that will offend the local residents? No matter where you are going, a little research on the culture, weather patterns, and locals will pay off. A little effort can save you from embarrassment and suffering. The U.S. Department of State offers travelers a comprehensive guide to every country in the world.

Don't Lose your Identity

Take precautions when using your mobile phone to protect yourself from identity theft or voice phishing (vishing if you will) while traveling. According to the security experts at Lifelock, vishing occurs when someone calls you and pretends to be your bank or another authoritative source. They will ask you for credit card or other personal information. In the chaos of travel, it is easy to get confused. Refuse to give out details like this on the phone.

Remember, Fine Print is not your Friend

Read the fine print when booking anything on vacation. Hotels, car rentals, airline tickets — if you are signing something or paying a fee, make sure you examine all the details. Otherwise, you might find your food money going to pay the hotel room deposit or baggage fees at the airport. Taxes in other countries may take you by surprise unless you pull out the magnifying glass and a calculator. There are apps available for smartphones such as Your Magnifying Glass that help you see the fine print when on the road without carrying extra tools.